We’re returning to our new! improved! scheduling with an interview with my agent sister, the wonderful Anna Zabo. Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. She also publishes non-erotic fiction under her real name. Follow her on Twitter here.
1. How do you identify yourself?
I identify as bisexual, though I suppose pansexual is more correct, as I am also attracted to non-cisgender people. But I’m old enough that bi was how I started thinking of myself when I realized there was another option besides straight or gay. I’m pretty much a cis-gender woman. (There’s a longer explanation of gender, but you’d have to talk to me in person to hear it. That’s the short form.)
2. What did it feel like growing up bisexual?
Growing up was confusing and involved a lot of denial. The first crush I ever had was on a senior girl when I was a sophomore in high school. And it was a hard hard crush, too. I’d walk the long route to class just to pass her in the hall. When I found out where she worked after school, I rode my bike there. I didn’t even know what I was doing, just that she was so very cool and nice and cute and I wanted to be around her.
The second crush I had was on a boy. Same feelings, only…I could *date* a boy because that’s what girls did. And if I had feelings for a boy, that meant I wasn’t gay so those feelings I had (and still had at the time) for the girl…were just a phase. Right? I’d grow out of it.
And that’s pretty much what I told myself for a long long time, whenever I was attracted to a woman. Because I dated men. I love the look of men, the touch, the feel. So I was het, right? Yeah, no. Even once I discovered there was such a thing as bisexuality, it was often presented as a phase or something women did to turn men on… and that wasn’t *me*. So, basically, I kind of hid from it and from that part of myself.
3. What are the biggest challenges? Conversely, what are the quirks/perks?
My biggest challenge was accepting myself, letting myself *be* bi. I’m more or less still in that process, too. I *am* queer. I belong at that table, too. The perk, I suppose, is that I do finally feel at peace with myself. And I finally got up the courage to flirt with a woman I was attracted to (and who I knew wasn’t straight), with pretty positive results, though that might have been age-related. I’m in my early 40s and life is too damn short to worry about what other people think. So why the hell not?
4. What do you wish people knew about being bisexual?
It’s not a phase. I haven’t grown out of it. It doesn’t mean I get more dates. It also doesn’t mean I want to sleep with everyone. I’m a picky picky person when it comes to dating and sex.
5. What are the biggest cliches/stereotypes you’ve seen?
Basically, the idea that a bi woman “goes straight” if she’s with a guy….the whole erasure of a person’s bisexuality when they switch partners to someone of a different gender. I wasn’t straight when I dated guys and having a girlfriend doesn’t make me a lesbian. I don’t see it as often with bisexual men. They seem to hold onto their queerness more even when dating women. But it may be the opposite problem…that they’re thought of as gay primarily and sometime they’ll realize that.
I suppose that’s the biggest stereotype I see: That bisexuality is a transition point, that people who say they’re bi will either end up gay/lesbian or straight. People just don’t understand that, no really, you can be attracted to all genders for all of your life.
BONUS: What is your advice for writers writing diverse characters?
Don’t let fear keep you from writing diverse characters. Let it be personal. Let it hurt and let it make you afraid and let yourself struggle. Talk to many people. Ask questions. Be embarrassed at your mistakes and assumptions. Grow. Learn. Then write. Please write.Please don’t throw up your hands and walk away. Don’t think “oh, I can’t do this right” or “no one will want to read a book with _____ character in it” because you can do it and yes people want to read that book.